Let me introduce you to Cinderella and Prince Charming, sometimes known as “Prince” but more often “Dad”. Elma’s favourite friends, and constant companions in so many of her games.
She makes them Duplo castles, she insists that they move into any castles that Kitty builds, and they are cooked for, cleaned up after and put to bed several times a day, usually accompanied by a bedtime story (“once upon a time .. now they are all asleep!”). Whenever we pour out the Duplo onto the floor it’s “Dad” she makes a beeline for, scuffing through the sea of pretty plastic like angular hot pink and blue leaves until she finds her true love. And it’s the prince that really matters; we’ve got a couple of Cinderella’s at least, and a Princess Ginger (formerly Aurora but re-christened by Kitty) and Ariel, to say nothing of two zoo keepers, a couple of girls about town and a little girl that rather strongly resembles Miss Elma herself, but only one Prince.
When Kitty was a similar age she enjoyed her Duplo but we didn’t have quite so much of it at that point, and I just don’t remember her playing with it in the same way. Where Elma is all about the role play, the acting out of little stories of her own invention, Kitty was (and still is) all about the structures; she’ll want to build the biggest tower or a little house with a garden and a swing and a slide, or another huge new castle. Elma’s building tends to be for whatever she wants for her little people, not for the sake of the construction itself.
It’s such a strong illustration of the differences in their personalities, and such a lovely way to watch Elma’s personality really start to emerge from the baby stage. In so many things they can be incredibly alike, and they’re looking more and more similar as they get older, but it’s fun to watch their very different attitudes towards the same toys, and I’m curious to see how that’s going to play out as they grow into and through a few of the other bits and bobs that we have on our shelves.
Although all of this still fails to explain why I looked across the lounge one day to discover that Cinders and Dad appeared to be being laid out less as honoured guests at the party and more as the tea for the party. I’m going to really hope that the tea plates are intended to be cushions because after all of their recent adventures (giant slides, going to bed, making a flower garden, going to bed again) I think they deserve better than to end their imagined existence as tea for Upsy Daisy and an octopus.